Simmonds appears ready to return

Wayne Simmonds celebrates his second period goal with his teammates against the New York Rangers on Thursday, January 24, 2013. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

After missing three-plus games because of a concussion, it appears Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds will return to the lineup for Saturday’s matinee against Carolina at the Wells Fargo Center.

Simmonds wore a regular jersey and was allowed to take contact during Friday’s practice in Voorhees. Afterward, he said he felt ready to play, but hasn’t been told if he’ll be in the lineup.

He said he has passed all the medical testing, which has become more stringent lately.

“I think obviously they changed some of the protocol for concussions; you only have one brain,” Simmonds said. “It’s only right to wait until you are fully recovered until you come back.”

Simmonds was concussed when elbowed to the face and knocked to the ice by Washington’s John Erskine on Feb. 1.

“This was my first concussion, so obviously I wanted to wait until I felt comfortable,” Simmonds said. “I feel good. I feel like I’m ready to play, but then again it is up to the coaching staff.”

The Flyers (4-6-1), who have struggled offensively, can use Simmonds’ presence.

“He’s strong along the walls, and another big body who’s tough to play against,” forward Danny Briere said. “It seems this year, more than I’ve probably ever seen, the game is being played along the wall, so guys like him and (Scott) Hartnell and even (Andrej) Meszaros on defense” are keys. “Those are guys that when they get back into the lineup will be big additions.”

Hartnell (broken foot) and Meszaros (shoulder) may return in about two weeks.

In eight games, Simmonds has two goals and three assists.

“He brings speeds and toughness to the lineup,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “You remove players like that and it’s nice to get him back.”

In the game he was injured, Simmonds was on the top line, with Briere and Claude Giroux. Rookie Tye McGinn has taken his spot on that unit and has played well.

Though the Flyers seem to be trying to win games by using a defensive style while Simmonds and Hartnell are out of the lineup, Laviolette said that’s not the case.

“We talk about shots and opportunities and attack all the time,” he said. “I don’t think the way to play the game is sit back in your end and defend and win, 1-0. I think the best defense is to play offense and get down the other team’s end.”

Breakaways. In a rarity, the Hurricanes (5-4) started and will finish the Flyers’ four-game homestand. The Flyers are 2-0-1 on the homestand and are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to Florida…..The Flyers’ power play was 3 for 3 in their 5-3 win over Carolina last Saturday….Briere on playing so many games a week in the lockout-shortened season: “I kind of like it. I like playing lots of games. It gets you in the mode quicker. If you do the right things” _ he talked about getting the proper rest _ “it’s a fun season to be a part of.”…..Ilya Bryzgalov is 4-5-1 despite a 2.20 goals-against average and .923 save percentage….The Flyers are 0-4-1 when opponents score first.

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